2020 Jeep Gladiator – The Wrangler pickup
By Christopher A. Randazzo
Trucks are the in-thing these days, there’s no doubt about it. And with the truck market being so big, it is starting to spawn off little markets in itself. One of those being the rugged off-road market. We’re not just taking about trucks that can go off-road, we’re talking about trucks that offer the ultimate in off-road capability, like the Ford Raptor, Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. But now, if we take a step back and ask – who makes one of the best off-road vehicles, well that’s a no-brainer, it’s Jeep with its Wrangler. So, it would seem fitting for Jeep to add its two cents into this new ultimate off-road truck market. And it has, and it’s called the Gladiator.
One can best think of the new 2020 Jeep Gladiator as a Jeep Wrangler with a 5-foot cargo bed in place of its normal rear cargo area. To be more specific, the Gladiator is a four-door Wrangler Unlimited with a longer wheelbase. This isn’t the first time Jeep has built some sort of Jeep-truck. Flashback nearly 30 years and you might recall the Scrambler.
Jeep will offer this all-new model in four different trim levels. The base Sport is bare bones with steel wheels, 5-inch central display and crank windows. Post-Millennials probably have never seen crank windows, so they may want to look at the Sport S which adds power windows and door locks along with 17-inch alloy wheels. The Overland model dresses the Gladiator up in 18-inch wheels, LED lighting and a 7-inch infotainment system. At the top of the food chain is the Rubicon. Much like the Wrangler Rubicon, the Gladiator Rubicon gets many off-road goodies such as locking front and rear differentials, an electronically disconnectable front stabilizer bar, Fox shock absorbers, and body-protecting rock rails and skid plates. And just like the Wrangler, the Gladiator comes with a soft top that can be removed for open-air driving, with a hard top available as an option.
Currently the only engine available in the Gladiator is the 3.6-liter V6 making 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque routed through a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional eight-speed automatic. Jeep will eventually offer a diesel 3.0-liter V-6 that develops 260 horses and an impressive 442 lb-ft of torque, but we will have to wait until 2020. Like the Wrangler, every Gladiator is four-wheel drive.
The Gladiator that Jeep had me in last week was a silver Sport S model. Decked out with plenty of features including the larger infotainment center screen, a soft top and roll up toneau cover, it came with a $48,915 MSRP. The base Sport model starts at just under $33,600.
Those familiar with the Wrangler’s interior will feel right at home in the Gladiator. The Wrangler’s upright dashboard, window controls in the center and padded roll over bars are all present in the Gladiator. Being it’s a Jeep, the controls are easy to use and within reach. The cloth seats in the test vehicle are fitting for this type of vehicle, but leather seating surfaces are available.
Of course, the main thing about the Gladiator is that it’s got a decent size bed that allows you to toss things into. But the Gladiator can also tow. When equipped with the Max Tow Package (which includes a 4.10 Axle Ratio with the automatic transmission), the Gladiator can tow up to 7650 pounds. That’s a good size boat.
And let’s not forget that the Gladiator’s DNA originates from the Wrangler, meaning we know it can go off-road.
For the off-road pick-up truck junkie, the Gladiator seems to check all the boxes. Capable off-road? Check. Good size pickup bed? Able to tow? Check and check. Throw in the feature that you can drop it’s top, and not only does the Gladiator sound good – it stands apart from the rest.
By The Numbers:
2020 Jeep Gladiator Sport S 4×4
Base Price: $33,545.00
Price as Tested: $48,915.00
Layout: front-engine / four-wheel drive
Engine: 3.6 liter V6
Transmission: 8 – speed automatic
Horsepower: 360 hp
Torque: 390 ft/lb
EPA Fuel Economy: 17 city / 22 highway mpg
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